Nearly eleven months after hiring a rookie, defensive-minded head coach, The Bobcats have done it again. Former Lakers’ top assistant Steve Clifford is the new coach in Charlotte. While this will be Clifford’s first head coaching gig in the NBA, he’s worked with several successful head coaches, including Stan Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau.
Clifford’s defensive acumen will be severely tested. He inherits a team that finished dead last in the NBA in both points allowed and defensive rating last season. There is some youth and talent on defense, however. Recent draft picks Bismack Biyombo, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor were selected specifically for their ability to defend.
More than defense, this organization has struggled with continuity. Clifford will be The Bobcats’ sixth head coach in 10 years and its fourth since December of 2010. Of the organization’s 10 lottery selections, nine were let go after their rookie deals expired. Only Emeka Okafor received a second contract, and he was traded for Tyson Chandler early in that second contract. Chandler himself only lasted a year in Charlotte.
It’s hard to build a contender when the pieces are constantly changing.
Look at the four remaining teams in the NBA Playoffs: Miami, Indiana, San Antonio and Memphis. Each has a coach that’s been with the organization for at least three years. Look at the four overhyped large market teams that were recently eliminated: Brooklyn, New York, LA Clippers and LA Lakers. Only The Clippers’ Vinnie Del Negro was in his third season with the organization. He’s since been canned.
I’ll reiterate. You can’t win without continuity. Charlotte won’t find it’s way out of the NBA basement until it creates a stable core, with both coaching and players.
Let’s hope Steve Clifford can achieve that continuity.
~Lewis Woodard, WFNZ Sports Radio The Fan 610 AM
Find Lewis on Twitter @LewWoodard